Photograph by George Sakkestad Four-year-old Maddie Love of Los Gatos checks out the books in her ‘Little Free Library’ on Los Gatos Boulevard. Maddie is an avid reader and plans to participate in the Los Gatos library’s Summer Reading Challenge.
A small white box with a sign on it that says “Little Free Library” appeared on Los Gatos Boulevard near Loma Alta Avenue in April. The box belongs to 4-year-old Maddie Love, an avid reader and author. Yes, author.
“I like getting books out of it, and people come and get books that I put in there for their kids or themselves,” Maddie said of the box she placed, part of the growing movement that lets people borrow a book from the box and return it later or add a new one.
The little library’s kids’ books include “Dora’s Enchanted Forest Adventures” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Tweety.” For adults, there are titles like “The Help” and “The Notebook.”
It turns out the busy Los Gatos Boulevard location is perfect for a Little Free Library.
“It’s always busy here, with cars rumbling and people walking by all the time,” Maddie said.
Maddie’s mom, Amy Love, says her daughter has a passion for books.
“She’s in the Los Gatos library once or twice a week, always going to special events, so all the children’s librarians know her,” Love said. “She even wrote a book called ‘Nick Tales: Enlightened Ocean Adventures.’ She named it after her favorite stuffy, Nick, who is a dog that has done everything and can do anything.”
Maddie helped with the illustrations and was beaming when her mom read “Nick Tales” aloud to classmates at the Mariposa Montessori and Stratford schools in Los Gatos, where Maddie just finished preschool.
Maddie will be joining hundreds of other children, teens and adults who are expected to participate in the Los Gatos library’s Summer Reading Challenge that’s already underway. Last year, 880 readers participated in the challenge.
“It’s especially important for children and teens because we want them to stay active over the summer,” librarian Chris Ota said. “It helps keep their literary skills up. They have to read to grow their understanding of the world and keep their minds strong for the next school year.”
The hope, Ota said, is that families will read together so children understand that reading is a lifelong activity.
It’s easy to sign up for the challenge: Just visit losgatosca.gov/42/Los-Gatos-Library and fill out a short form. Registering for the program and logging reading hours makes kids eligible for prizes like a 1,600-piece Lego set. Gift cards to well-known stores, restaurants and movie theaters will be given out weekly to adult readers.
“You sign up from our website, and based on your age, it puts you into the children’s, teen or adult group,” Ota said. “Children and teens log each book they read, and at the end of the summer they come to the library and claim a prize.”
Not just for kids
The adult challenge is a bit different.
“If an adult reads two hours a week and logs it, they’re entered for the weekly prize,” Ota said. “Adults can read the newspaper or books; even books they read to their kids count, so it’s a great
way for the family to read together.”
The library is also offering programs that go along with the Challenge’s theme of “Build a Better World.”
“That can be anything from engineering to maker spaces, do-it-yourself projects and architecture,” Ota said.
Which explains why Ota organized a talk on the 5-year-old library’s architecture. Chris Noll from Noll & Tam Architects will discuss the building’s design at a free talk at 2 p.m. June 17 in the library’s technology lab.
The library is in the Los Gatos Civic Center at 100 Villa Ave.
The library has a free summer movie series, too, featuring “Great Films of 2016.” The first movie is “La La Land,” which will be shown at 5:30 p.m. June 27 in the technology lab.
The movie “Lion” will be shown at 5:30 p.m. July 25, followed by “I Am Not Your Negro” at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 29.
To better accommodate the Music in the Park concert series that takes place at the civic center, the library will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays through August.
Back on Los Gatos Boulevard, Maddie plans to spend her summer stocking her Little Free Library and keeping an eye out for new books that she can read.
To find the address for Maddie’s library box and other free libraries, visit littlefreelibrary.org.